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In front of a crowd of 6,364 the Eagles fell 24-19 to the Harlequins. The Eagles jumped out to an early 11-0 lead but were unable to sustain that pressure throughout. Both teams used unlimited substitutions, as the touring side is preparing for an upcoming Premiership season and missing a number of players who were away with their respective international squads, while USA coach Mike Tolkin was looking to finalize his 31-Man Roster for the upcoming Rugby World Cup.
The Harlequins received the opening kickoff and after a few phases spun the ball wide. Taku Ngwenya, however, crashed in for a tremendous hit and the Eagles piled in at the breakdown and won a turnover. USA spun the ball from sideline to sideline but gained very little territory. A penalty for failure to release the tackled player, however, set AJ MacGinty up for an easy penalty. Three minutes into the game the Eagles led 3-0.
The United States doubled its lead almost immediately off the ensuing kickoff. After a couple of faces the Quins were pinged for a penalty off a box kick. MacGinty nailed the kick from nearly 50 yards out and down the right sideline to extend the lead to 6-0.
The Eagles lost the ensuing kickoff, but a forward pass ended the possession for the British squad. Several kicks resulted in a field possession battle before MacGinty booted a high ball, chased down the receiver, and made a tremendous tackle. The Eagles were the first to the breakdown, and won a failure to release the ball penalty. This time, however, MacGinty missed the kick wide, keeping the game at 6-0 Eagles.
In the fifteenth minute, John Quill appeared to have snuck through a gap but was called back due to a questionable knock on-call. The Harlequins won the ensuing scrum inside the Eagle 40 and earned a makeable penalty, but elected to kick for the corner. The premiership side knocked on the lineout and the Eagles got out of trouble.
The next five minutes or so the Harlequins probed the Eagle defense, but stout defensive shape kept the Quins out of Eagle territory. Samu Manoa put a blistering hit on an opponent and drove the Quins player back. The Eagles were the first to the breakdown and poached the ball. Mike Petri swung the turnover ball right to the Eagle backs in space. MacGinty split two defenders with a bit of individual brilliance and unloaded a well-executed offload to a streaking Thretton Palamo. The former University of Utah standout had nothing but open pasture to the try line for an 11-0 lead at the 15 minute mark.
The Harlequins finally got on the board in the 20th minute thanks to a clever play from scrumhalf Karl Dickson. The Quins got deep into Eagle territory thanks to an Eagle penalty. Rather than go for points the Quins kicked to the corner. The visitors formed a maul off the lineout and Dickson peeled the ball off the back, dummied a pass and beat MacGinty on the inside and walked in under the posts. Nick Evans nailed the conversion to cut the Eagle lead to 11-7.
Mike Petri nearly regained the 11 point advantage a few minutes later but a try saving tackle five meters out resulted in a turnover to the Quins. The ball popped out of the back of the ruck and it appeared to be broken play. Petri picked the ball up and slithered through the side of the ruck only to be stopped just short of the try line.
Moments later, the Quins sent a kick into space down the right sideline. Marland Yarde sprinted onto and after several kick aheas bounced the ball off Cam Dolan out of bounds. The English side mauled the ensuing five-meter lineout over the try zone with Luke Wallace falling over to give the visitors a 12-11 lead. Evans nailed the conversion off the post with five minutes left in the half the Eagles trailed 14-11.
The Eagles responded nicely, however, they did not get any points for their effort. Olive Kilifi barreling his way down the left sideline and the Eagles methodically worked their way to the oppenent’s goal line. After a couple of phases at the goal line, Dolan managed to break through and appeared to touch down. The referee did not immediately award the try and after a TMO review, deemed that Dolan had knocked the ball on before grounding it.
The USA committed a penalty on the resulting scrum and the Quins kicked to touch ending the half with the score 14-11.
At the start of the second half both teams made wholesale changes. The Quins brought on former Welsch prop Adam Jones and Italian scrumhalf Tito Tebaldi to name a few. The Eagles brought on Zach Test and former Kutztown scrumhalf Niku Kruger as well as made a number of other changes throughout the second stanza.
The Harlequins built upon their moment early in the second half after wholesale substitutions. The visitors played with much more urgency at the start of the second half but were unable to turn the momentum into more points.
MacGinty continued his inspiring performance in the second half. He dummied a pass wide and beat his opposite number twice but the Eagles failed to turn the line breaks into points. The first, was one MacGinty would like to have back as he led a teammate too much, the ball was knocked on and the chance went begging. The second saw Ngwenya make a solid carry, but it ultimately ended in a penalty against the Eagles.
The chances continue to go by the wayside for the Eagles as rather than tying the game with a very makeable penalty, the Eagles decided to kick for touch. The ensuing lineout resulted in a penalty and the Quins cleared their line.
After some scrappy play and a few tempers flaring, the Eagles won another penalty inside enemy territory. This time the Eagles went for points but MacGinty’s kicked sailed wide right. The newly minted flyhallf struggled with his boot all afternoon and saw his day end after the failed attempt.
Folau Niua came on for MacGinty and immediately made his presence felt. He facilitated a line break finding John Quill. The big forward displayed tremendous skill finding Zach Test with a 15-meter pass out wide. Test was unable to find the sideline and the Eagles worked their way back in field. Manoa powered his way to the goal line and eventually earned a penalty for tackler not releasing. After some deliberation, the Eagles elected to go for points and Niua tied the game at 14 all.
The Harlequins started to take hold of the game after the points, earning a number of penalties deep in Eagle territory. The Quins continued to take the lineout. The visitors methodically worked a maul from just inside the Eagle 22 and an eventually Wallace dove over for his second of the match. The clinical score came with 12 minutes to go in the game and after the conversion the Eagles trailed 21-14.
The visitors monopolized possession for much of the remaining time but failed on their first attempt for points on the afternoon. The Eagles continued to probe their defense but were unable to maintain any continuity. After a knock on from Palamo and a penalty at the scrum, the Harlequins sealed the game with a 55-meter penalty. Substitute Ben Botica made it a two score game right before the final whistle.
The Eagles made one final push after Seamus Kelly busted through the line and found an oncoming Andrew Durutalo. Durutalo danced through a couple of defenders before being tackled just inside the 22-meter line. The ball was spun wide, Zach Test fended off a defender to the inside and dotted down for his first career try in an international 15s match. It was mere consolation as the final whistle blew with the Eagles falling 24-19 to the Premiership side.
With the deadline for World Cup roster's slated for tomorrow, this match was the last opportunity for players to make their case to be included in the 31-man roster.